Twitter as news source?

Last night I noticed a tweet from Chris Messina about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. This made me think about the value of Twitter as a news source.

Apparently, people in Mumbai got the word out on Twitter first, well before the mainstream media did. This has happened before (e.g. the California fires), which raises the question if Twitter is a valuable news source. I think it is.

Some critics claim it is not news as tweets aren’t verified. While this is true, of course, I don’t see why this would mean it’s not news as such. Wikipedia isn’t always right ether and still, we use it as an important information source. Even the traditional media channels are wrong sometimes (see the ‘MP3 murder’ in Brussels)? Unverified eyewitness reports are something that will always happen in the first chaotic moments after disasters like this. Twitter is a news source, not the news source.

People have to learn to look critically at news sources (amongst other things). Wikipedia, for example, is a good place to start looking for information but it should never be the place where you stop. In today’s world, it becomes more and more important to collect bits and pieces from various sources to build your own “truth”. You have to dare to question your sources. Even the traditional news is colored as it looks from a certain cultural, economical maybe, perspective.

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